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More Tinkering by Curt Gabrielson

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Chapter 24 Semiconductor Circuits from the Trash

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Use old holiday lights to tinker a diode circuit.

You can get holiday lights for cheap, or even free from your neighbor’s trash can—entire strings of lights that already have wires connected to them! This is an international phenomenon; we can get them here in Timor, too. They’re everywhere at Christmas in this Catholic country, and when they stop working in a year or two, we get them for the asking!

What’s more, many of them are now built with LEDs (light-emitting diodes), extraordinarily high-tech bits of solid-state physics that can be used to learn about semiconductors. LEDs also use ...

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